THAT region of the universe which is visible to mortal eyes has been named the solar system: it is composed of innumerable stars, and each star is a white hot sun, the centre and sovereign of a world. Our own sun is attended by a company of cold, dark globes, revolving round it in accordance with the law of gravitation; they also rotate like joints before the fire, turning first one side, and then the other, to the central light. The path that is traced by the outermost planet is the limit of the sun's domain, which is too extensive to be measured into miles. If a jockey mounted on a winner of the Derby had started when Moses was born, and had galloped ever since at full speed, he would be by this time about half the way across, Yet this world seems large to us, only because we are so small. It is merely a drop in the ocean of space. The stars which we see on a fine night are also suns as important as our own; and so vast is the distance which separates their worlds from ours, that a flash of lightning would be years upon the road. These various solar systems are not independent of one another they are members of the same community. They are sailing in order round a point to us unknown. Our own sun, drawing with it the planets in its course, is spinning furiously upon its axis, and dashing through space at four miles a second. And not only is the solar system an organ of one gigantic form; it has also grown to what it is, and may still be considered in its youth. As the body of a plant or animal arises from a fluid alike in all its parts, so this world of ours was once a floating fiery cloud, a nebula or mist, the molecules of which were kept asunder by excessive heat. But the universe is pervaded by movement and by change; there came a period when the heat declined, and when the atoms obeying their innate desires rushed to one another, and, concentrating, formed the sun, which at first almost filled the solar world. But as it cooled, and as it contracted, and as it rotated, and as it revolved, it became a sphere in the centre of the world; and it cast off pieces which became planets, satellites, attendant stars, and they also cast off pieces which became satellites to them. Thus the earth is the child, and the moon the grandchild of the sun. When our planet first came out into the world it was merely a solar fragment, a chip of the old star, and the other planets were in a similar condition. But these sunballs were separated from one another, and from their parent form, by oceans of ether, a kind of attenuated air, so cold that frost itself is fire in comparison. The sun burning always in this icy air is gradually cooling down; but it parts slowly with its heat on account of its enormous size. Our little earth cooled quickly, shrank in size -- it had once extended to the moon -- and finally went out. From a globe of glowing gas it became a ball of liquid fire, enveloped in a smoky cloud. When first we are able to restore its image and examine its construction, we find it composed of zones or layers in a molten state, arranged according to their weight; and above it we find an atmosphere also divided into layers. Close over the surface vapour of salt was suspended in the air; next, a layer of dark, smoky, carbonic acid gas; next, oxygen and nitrogen, and vapour of water or common steam. Within the sphere, as it cooled and changed, chemical bodies sprang from one another, rushed to and fro, combined with terrible explosions; while in the variegated atmosphere above, gas-hurricanes arose and flung the elements into disorder. So sped the earth, roaring and flaming through the sky, leaving behind it a fiery track, sweeping round the sun in its oval course.
Year followed year, century followed century, epoch followed epoch. Then the globe began to cool upon its surface. Flakes of solid matter floated on the molten sea, which rose and fell in flaming tides towards a hidden and benighted moon. The flakes caked together, and covered the ball with a solid sheet, which was upraised and cracked by the tidal waves beneath, like thin ice upon the Arctic seas. In time it thickened and became firm, but subterranean storms often ripped it open in vast chasms, from which masses of liquid lava spouted in the air, and fell back upon the hissing crust. Everywhere heaps of ashes were thus formed, and the earth was seamed with scars and gaping wounds. When the burning heat of the air had abated, the salt was condensed, and fell like snow upon the earth, and covered it ten feet thick. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, lying overhead in the form of steam, descended in one great shower, and so the primeval sea was formed. It was dark, warm, and intensely salt; at first it overspread the surface of the globe; then volcanic islands were cast up; and as the earth cooled downwards to its core, it shrivelled into folds as an apple in the winter when its pulp dries up. These folds and wrinkles were mountain ranges, and continents appearing above the level of the sea. Our planet was then divided into land and water in the same proportions as exist at the present time. For though land is always changing into water, and water is always changing into land, their relative quantities remain the same. The air was black, night was eternal, illumined only by lightning and volcanoes; the earth was unconscious of the sun's existence; its heat was derived from the fire within, and was uniform from pole to pole. But the crust thickened; the inner heat could no longer be felt upon the surface; the atmosphere brightened a little, and the sun's rays penetrated to the earth. From the shape, the altitude, and the revolutions of our planet, resulted an unequal distribution of solar heat, and to this inequality the earth is indebted for the varied nature of its aspects and productions. Climate was created: winds arose in the air; currents in the deep; the sun sucked up the waters of the sea, leaving the salt behind; rain-clouds were formed, and fresh water bestowed upon the land. The underground fires assisted the planet's growth by transforming the soils into crystalline structures, and by raising the rocks thus altered to the surface; by producing volcanic eruptions, hot springs, and other fiery phenomena. But the chief architect and decorator of this planet was the sun. When the black veil of the earth was lifted, when the sunlight entered the turbid waters of the primeval sea, "an interesting event" took place. The earth became with young.
In water there are always floating about a multitude of specks which are usually minute fragments of the soil. But now appeared certain specks which, though they resembled the others, possessed certain properties of a very peculiar kind. First, they brought forth little specks, precise copies of themselves: they issued their own duplicates. And secondly, they performed in their own persons an elaborate chemical operation. Imbibing water and air, they manufactured those elements with the assistance of the solar rays, into the compounds of which their own bodies were composed, giving back to the water those components which they did not require. And then appeared other little specks which swallowed up the first, and manufactured them into the compounds more complex still, of which they, the second comers, were composed. The first were embryonic plants; the second were embryonic animals. They were both alike in appearance; both repeated themselves, or reproduced, in the same manner. The difference between them was this, that the plants could live on raw air and water, the animals could live only on those elements when prepared by sun light in the body of the plant. The office of vegetation upon the earth is therefore of a culinary nature, and the plant, when devoured, gives the animal that heat which is its life, just as coal (a cake of fossil vegetation) gives heat to the apartment in which it is consumed. But this heat, whether it lies hidden in the green and growing plant, or in its black and stony corpse, was at first acquired from the sun. Glorious Apollo is the parent of us all. Animal heat is solar heat; a blush is a stray sunbeam; Life is bottled sunshine, and Death the silent-footed butler who draws out the cork.
Those dots of animated jelly, without definite form or figure, swimming unconsciously in the primeval sea, were the ancestors of man. The history of our race begins with them, and continues without an interruption to the present day; a splendid narrative, the materials of which it is for science to discover, the glories of which it is for poets to portray.
Owing to the action of surrounding forces, the outer parts of the original jelly-dot became harder and more solid than the parts within, and so it assumed the shape of the cell or sphere. Its food consisted of microscopic fragments of vegetable matter imbibed through its surface or outer rind, such portions as were not "made up" being expelled or excreted in the same manner as they were taken in. There was no difference of parts, except that the outside was solid and the inside soft. The creature's body was its hand, its stomach, and its mouth. When it had lived a certain time it burst and died, liberating, as it did so, a brood of cells which had slowly ripened within. But sometimes these new cells, instead of being detached when they were born, remained cohering to the parent cell, thus making the animal consist of several cells instead of only one. In the first case the process is termed reproduction; in the second case it is termed growth. But the two operations are in reality the same. Growth is coherent reproduction; reproduction is detached growth.
Time goes on. Our animal is now a cell-republic enclosed by a wrapper of solidified and altered cells. Next, in this wrapper a further change takes place. It protrudes into limbs; a gaping month appears. The limbs or tentacles grasp the food and put it within the mouth; other limbs sprout forth and carry their owner from place to place. In the meantime the cells within are also changed; their partitions are removed; the many-walled apartments are converted into galleries or tubes, along which the food is conveyed from one part of the body to another. These tubes are filled with blood, pumped backwards and forwards by the heart. The muscles which move the outer limbs are equipped with nerves, the movements of which are directed from centres in the spine and brain. The functions of life are thus divided, and each department has an organ of its own. The reproductive function is divided farther still. Two separate elements are formed; one prepares and ejects the sperm-cell which the other receives, and unites to the germ-cell. At a later period in the history of life this arrangement is supplanted by another, more complicated still. The two elements no longer co-exist in the same form, and thus reproduction can only be effected by means of co-operation between two distinct and independent individuals. How important a fact is this will presently appear.
These various inventions of Nature, so far as we have gone; the limbs of locomotion and prehension; the heart with its vessels; the brain with its nerves; and the separation of the sexes, all occurred in the marine period of the earth's life: in the dark deep sea womb.
Similar changes, but inferior in degree, occurred in the vegetable world. The shapeless specks became one-celled: they were next strung together like a chain of beads; they then grew into sea-weed and aqueous plants, which floated about, and finally obtained a footing on the land. But they dwelt long ages on the earth before their sex appeared. There were no flowers in that primeval world, for the flower is a sign of love. Gigantic mosses and tree ferns clothed the earth, and reproduced themselves by scattering cells around.
Animals followed their prey, the plants, from the water to the land and became adapted for terrestrial life. At that period the atmosphere was thickened with carbonic acid gas, and was more pestilential than the Black Hole of Calcutta. Only reptiles, with sluggish and imperfect respiratory organs, could breathe in such an air. But that fatal gas was bread to the vegetable world, which took the carbon into its body, and thus the atmosphere was purified in time. The vast masses of carbon which the plants took out of the air in order to allow a higher class of animal to appear upon the stage, were buried in the earth, hardened into coal, and were brought in by the Author in the second act -- now on.
The coal-matter being thus removed, the air was bright and pure; the sun glowed with radiance and force; the reptiles were converted into birds and quadrupeds of many kinds; insects rising from the land and from the water hummed and sparkled in the air; the forests were adorned with flowers, and cheered with song. And as the periods rolled on, the inhabitants of the earth became more complex in their structure, more symmetrical in form, and more advanced in mental power, till at last the future lord of the planet himself appeared upon the stage. The first act of the drama is here concluded: but the division is merely artificial; in Nature there is no entr'acte; no curtain falls. Her scenes resemble dissolving views; the lower animals pass into man by soft, slow, insensible gradations.
We must now consider the question, How and why have these marvellous changes taken place? How and why did the primeval jelly-dots assume the form of the cell or sphere?
It has been already shown that continual changes occurred in the primeval atmosphere and in the primeval sea. These changes acting upon animal life produced changes in its composition. For as animals are the result and expression of the conditions under which they are born, it is natural to suppose that when these conditions are changed, the animals should also change. When the conditions of life are abruptly altered and instantaneously transformed, the animals are of course destroyed; but when, as is usually the case, the changes are gradual, the animals are slowly modified into harmony with the neighbouring conditions. The primeval speck of life being acted upon by a variety of forces, became varied in its structure and as these forces varied from period to period, the organisms also varied. Complexity of parts results from complexity of environment. Multiformity of circumstance produces multiformity of species. The development of animal life from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, from the simple to the complex, from uniformity to multiformity, is caused by the development of the earth itself from a monotonous water-covered globe with one aspect, one constitution, and one temperature to this varied earth on which we dwell, where each foot of land differs in some respect from the one beside it. The modifications on modifications of the animal are due to the modifications on modifications of the medium in which and on which it lived. And this operation of Nature is hastened and facilitated by a law which in itself is murderous and cruel. The earth is over- populated upon principle. Of the animals that are born, a few only can survive. There is not enough food for all; Nature scrambles what there is among the crowd. If any animal possesses an advantage, however slight, over those with whom he competes in this food-scramble or struggle for existence, he will certainly survive; and if he survives, then some one else, so gentle Nature orders it, must die. This law of competition becomes itself a force by developing slight variations along lines of utility into widely different and specific forms.
But how is it that animals of the higher type prevail? Why should species, with a tendency towards a complicated structure, generally triumph over simple forms? The reason appears to be this, that whenever a change takes place, it is almost invariably a change towards complexity. Now it is an ascertained law that animals are invigorated by a slight change; they are therefore improved by an approach towards complexity. Let us take the most mysterious of all progressive operations -- the division of the sexes. The hermaphrodite can fertilise itself, but its organs are so arranged that it can be fertilised by another individual, the wind or the water acting as the go-between. The offspring of such separate unions are always more vigorous than the home-born progeny of the hermaphrodite. The latter are therefore killed off by means of the struggle for existence, and sexual union, at first the exception, becomes the rule. Just as a body of artisans can do more work and better work when each man devotes his whole life to a single department of the craft, so it is good for the animal that division of labour should be established in its structure; that instead of the creature being its own mouth, its own stomach, its own organ of excretion, reproduction, and locomotion, it should be divided into separate parts, one of which moves it, another part takes the food, another part chews, another part digests, another part prepares the blood, another part pumps the blood to and fro, another part reproduces the species, another part nourishes the young, while over all presides the brain.
But how is it that some animals have progressed while others have remained at the bottom of the scale, and others again have advanced only to a certain point? If all have grown out of such specks of animated jelly as are still to be found within the sea, how is it that some have remained throughout infinite periods of time unchanged; that others have remained in the form of the sponge, rooted upon rocks; that others, like the lobster, have never exchanged their jointed bodies for the more perfect skeleton of the fish; that some fish have taken to the land, and have been converted into reptiles, and then into birds or quadrupeds, while others have remained in the aqueous condition; and lastly, that one animal, namely Man, has contrived to distance all the others when, as it is acknowledged, they all started fair?
In reply, let me ask those who admit the development of all civilised people from the savage state -- and that no geologist will now deny; --let me ask them how it is that Europeans have advanced (this involving a change in the structure of the brain), while others have remained in the savage state, others in the pastoral condition, others fixed at a certain point of culture, as the Hindus and the Chinese? The analogy is perfect, and the answer is in either case the same. Those forms remain stationary which are able to preserve their conditions of life unchanged. The savages of the primeval forest, when the game is exhausted in one region, migrate to another region where game exists. They remain therefore in the hunting state. The shepherds of the boundless plains, when one pasture is devoured by their flocks, migrate to another pasture where they find grass and water in abundance. But when, in a land like Egypt, the inhabitants are confined to a certain tract of land they are unable to evade the famine of food produced by the vicissitudes of nature and the law of population; they are compelled to invent in order to subsist; new modes of life, new powers, new desires, new sentiments arise; and the human animal is changed. Then a second period of immobility arrives; by means of despotism, caste, slavery, and infanticide, the statusquo is preserved.
In the primeval sea the conditions of life were constantly changing, but its inmates could usually keep them constant by migration. For instance, let us imagine a species accustomed to dwell at the bottom of the sea, feeding on the vegetable matter and oxygen gas which come down by liquid diffusion from the waters of the surface. By elevation of the sea-bed, or by the deposit of sediment from rivers, that part of the sea which this species inhabits becomes gradually shallow and light. The animal would migrate into deep dark water, and would therefore undergo no change. But let us suppose that it is prevented from migrating by a wall of rocks. It would then be exposed to light, and to other novel forces, and it would either change or die.
Here progress is the result of absolute necessity, and such must always be the case. Animals which inhabit the waters have no innate desire to make acquaintance with the land; but it sometimes happens that they live in shallow places, where they are left uncovered at low water for a certain time, and so in the course of geological periods the species becomes amphibious in habit; and then the hard struggle for life in the water, with the abundance of food upon the land, leads them to adopt terrestrial life. There are creatures now existing of whom it is not easy to say whether they belong to the water or the land: there are fishes which walk about on shore, and climb trees: It is not difficult to imagine such animals as these deserting the water, and entirely living upon land.
But the development of life, in its varied aspects, must always remain incomprehensible to those who have not studied the noble science of geology, or who at least have not made themselves acquainted with its chief results. Unless the student understands what extraordinary transformation scenes have taken place upon the globe, all that is now land, having formerly been sea, and all that is now sea having formerly been land, not only once, but again, and again, and again; unless he understands that these changes have been produced by the same gradual, and apparently insignificant, causes as those which are now at work before our eyes; the sea gnawing away the cliff upon the shore; the river carrying soil to the sea; the glacier gliding down the mountain slope; the iceberg bearing huge boulders to mid ocean; the coralline insects building archipelagoes; the internal fires suddenly spouting forth stones and ashes, or slowly upheaving continents; unless he fully understands how deliberate is Nature's method, how prodigal she is of time, how irregular and capricious she is in all her operations -- he will never cease to wonder that allied forms should be distributed in apparent disorder and confusion, instead of being arranged on a regular ascending scale. And, moreover, unless he understands how Nature, like the Sibyl, destroys her own books, he will never cease to wonder at missing links.
For it is not one missing link, but millions, that we require. It would however be just as reasonable to expect to find every book that ever was written; every clay-tablet that ever was baked in the printing ovens of Chaldaea; every rock that was ever inscribed; every obelisk that was ever engraved, every temple wall that was ever painted with hieroglyphics, as to expect to find every fossil of importance. Where are the missing links in literature, and where are the primeval forms? Where are the ancient Sanskrit hymns that were written without ink on palm leaves with an iron pen? Where are the thousands of Hebrew bibles that were written before the tenth century A.D.? Where are the lost books of the Romans and the Greeks? We know that many manuscripts have been consumed in great fires; the fire of Alexandria in the time of Julius Caesar, which no doubt destroyed papyri that could never be replaced; the fire in the time of Omar; the fires lighted by Popes and reverend Fathers of the Church; and the fire of Constantinople during the Crusades, which robbed us for ever of Arian's history of the successors of Alexander; Ctesias' history of Persia, and his description of India; several books of Diodorus, Agatharcides, and Polybius; twenty orations of Demosthenes, and the Odes of Sappho. But the material of books, whether paper or parchment, bark, clay, or stone, is always of a perishable nature, and, under ordinary circumstances, is destroyed sooner or later by the action of the atmosphere. Were it not that books can be copied, what would remain to us of the literature of the past?
In a rainless country such as Egypt, which is a museum of Nature, a monumental land, not only painted and engraven records, but even paper scrolls of an immense antiquity, have been preserved. But if we add to these the rock inscriptions, the printed bricks, and inscribed cylinders of Western Asia, how scanty and fortuitous are the remains! Let us now remember that fossils cannot be copied; once destroyed, they are for ever lost. Is it wonderful, therefore, that so few should be left? Fires greater than those of Alexandria and Constantinople are ever burning beneath our feet; at this very moment a precious library may be in flames. Yet that is not the worst. The action of air and water is fatal to the archives of Nature, which it is not part of Nature's plan to preserve for our instruction. Those animals which have neither bones nor shells are at once destroyed; and those which possess a solid framework are only preserved under special and exceptional conditions. The marvel is not that we find so little, but that we find so much. The development of man from the lower animals is now an authenticated fact. We believe, therefore, that connecting links between man and some ape-like animal existed for the same reason that we believe the Second Decade of Livy existed. It is not impossible that the missing books of Livy may be, discovered at some future day beneath the Italian soil. It is not impossible that forms intermediate between man and his ape-like ancestors may be discovered in the unexplored strata of equatorial Africa, or the Indian Archipelago. But either event is improbable in the extreme; and the existence of such intermediate forms will be admitted by the historians of the next generation, whether they are found or not.
We shall now proceed to describe the rise and progress of the mental principle. The origin of mind is an inscrutable mystery, but so is the origin of matter. If we go back to the beginning we find a world of gas, the atoms of which were kept asunder by excessive heat. Where did those atoms come from? How were they made? What were they made for? In reply to these questions theology is garrulous, but science is dumb.
Mind is a property of matter. Matter is inhabited by mind. There can be no mind without matter; there can be no matter without mind. When the matter is simple in its composition, its mental tendencies are also simple; the atoms merely tend to approach one another and to cohere; and as matter under the influence of varied forces (evolved by the cooling o the world) becomes more varied in its composition, its mental tendencies become more and more numerous, more and more complex, more and more elevated, till at last they are developed into the desires and propensities of the animal, into the aspirations and emotions of the man. But the various tendencies which inhabit the human mind, and which devote it to ambition, to religion, or to love, are not in reality more wonderful than the tendency which impels two ships to approach each other in a calm. For what can be more wonderful than that which can never be explained? The difference between the mind of the ship and the mind of man is the difference between the acorn and the oak.
The simplest atoms are attracted to one another merely according to distance and weight. That is the law of gravitation. But the compound atoms, which are called elements, display a power of selection. A will unite itself to C in preference to B; and if D passes by, will divorce itself from C, and unite itself to D. Such compounds of a compound are still more complex in their forms, and more varied in their minds. Water, which is composed of two gases -- oxygen and hydrogen -- when hot, becomes a vapour; when cold, becomes a crystal. In the latter case it displays a structural capacity. Crystals assume particular forms according to the substances of which they are composed; they may be classed into species, and if their forms are injured by accident, they have the power of repairing their structure by imbibing matter from without. A live form is the result of matter subjected to certain complex forces, the chief of which is the chemical power of the sun. It is continually being injured by the wear and tear of its own activity; it is continually darning and stitching its own life. After a certain period of time it loses its self-mending power, and consequently dies. The crystal grows from without by simple accretions or putting on of coats. The plant or animal grows and re-grows from within by means of a chemical operation. Moreover, the crystal is merely an individual; the plant or animal is the member of a vast community; before it dies, and usually as it dies, it produces a repetition of itself. The mental forces which inhabit the primeval jelly-dot are more complex than those which inhabit the crystal; but those of the crystal are more complex than those of a gas, and those of a gas than those of the true elementary atoms which know only two forces -- attraction and repulsion -- the primeval "Pull and Push", which lie at the basis of all Nature's operations.
The absorption of food and the repetition of form in the animal are not at first to he distinguished from that chemical process which is termed growth. Then from this principle of growth, the root of the human flower, two separated instincts like twin seed-leaves arise. The first is the propensity to preserve self-life by seeking food; from this instinct of self- preservation our intellectual faculties have been derived. The second is the propensity to preserve the life of the species; and from this instinct of reproduction our moral faculties have been derived.
The animal at first absorbs its food and unites with its mate as blindly and as helplessly as the crystal shapes itself into its proper form, as oxygen combines with hydrogen, or as ships roll towards each other in a calm. How then can a line be drawn between the inorganic and the organic, the lifeless and the alive? The cell that vibrates in the water, and the crystal that forms in the frost, are each the result of certain forces over which they have no control. But as the body of the animal is developed in complexity, by the action of complex forces, certain grey lumps of matter make their appearance within its structure, and out of these rises a spirit which introduces the animal to himself, which makes him conscious of his own existence. He becomes aware that he is alive; that he has an appetite; and that other animals have an appetite for him. His mind, though feeble and contracted, is improved by experience. He devises stratagems to avoid his enemies, or to seize his prey. At certain seasons he becomes conscious of his desire for a mate and that which, with his ancestors, was a blind tendency, an inherited part of growth, becomes with him a passion brightened by intelligence.
It is usually supposed that the transition of an ape-like animal into man is the most remarkable event in the history of animated forms. But this idea arises from human vanity and ignorance. The most remarkable event, after the origin of life, is certainly that to which we now allude; the first glimmering of consciousness and reason. Yet even here we can draw no dividing line. The animal becomes conscious that he desires food, and at certain periods, a mate; but the desires themselves are not new; they existed and they ruled him long before. When developed to a certain point, he begins to "take notice," as the nurses say; but his nature remains the same, However, this intelligence becomes in time itself a force, and gradually obtains to some extent the faculty of directing the forces by which the animal was once despotically ruled. By an effort of the human brain, for example, the reproductive force, or tendency, or instinct, can be obliterated and suppressed.
What we have to say, then, respecting the origin of our early ancestors is this: That when matter was subjected to a complicated play of forces, chief among which was solar influence, plants and animals came into life; and that when animals were subjected to an ever-increasing variety of forces, they became varied in their structure; and that when their structure had attained a certain measure of variety they became conscious of their own existence; and that then Nature endowed them with the faculty of preserving their lives and that of their species by means of their own conscious efforts. Next, it will be shown that the successful competitors in the struggle for existence not only obtained the food and females for which they strove, but also, by means of the efforts which they made in order to obtain them, raised themselves unconsciously in the animated scale. And lastly, we shall find that men who, in the savage state, are little better than the brutes, their lives being absorbed in the business of self-preservation and reproduction, are now in the civilised condition becoming conscious of the scheme of Nature, and are beginning to assist her by the methodical improvement of their mental powers.
The lower animals have a hard matter to earn their daily bread, and to preserve their children from starvation; and with them the course of true love does not by any means run smooth. Since only a few can succeed in the scramble for food, and not all can obtain mates, for polygamy frequently prevails, it follows as a matter of necessity that those animals which are the strongest, the swiftest, and the most intelligent will survive and leave offspring, and by the continued survival of the fittest the animated world improves from generation to generation, and rises in the scale. So far as strength and swiftness are concerned, limits are placed upon improvement. But there are no limits to the improvement of intelligence. We find in the lower kingdom muscular power in its perfection; but the brain is always imperfect, always young, always growing, always capable of being developed. In writing the history of animal progress we must therefore concentrate our attention upon the brain, and we shall find that the development of that organ is in great measure due to the influence of the affections.
Whether Nature has placed pain at the portals of love throughout the animal kingdom as she has at the portals of maternity, or whatever may be the cause, it is certain that the female flees from the male at the courting season, and that he captures her by means of his strength, swiftness, dexterity, or cunning, in the same manner as he obtains his prey. He is also obliged to fight duels in order to possess or to retain her, and thus his courage is developed. But at a later period in animal life a more peaceable kind of courtship comes into vogue. The females become queens. They select their husbands from a crowd of admirers, who strive to please them with their colours, their perfumes, or their music. The cavaliers, adorned in their bright wedding suits, which they wear only at the love-making season, display themselves before the dames. Others serenade them with vocal song, or by means of an apparatus fitted to the limbs, which corresponds to instrumental music. Rival troubadours will sing before their lady, as she sits in her leafy bower till one of them is compelled to yield from sheer exhaustion, and a feathered hero has been known to sing till be dropped down dead. At this period sexual timidity becomes a delicious coyness which arouses the ardour of the male. Thus love is born: it is brought forth by the association of ideas. The desire of an animal to satisfy a want grows into an affection beyond and independent of the want.
In the same manner the love of the young for its parents grows out of its liking for the food which the parents supply; and the love of parents for the young, though more obscure, may perhaps also be explained by association. The mother no doubt believes the offspring to be part of herself, as it was in fact but a short time before, and thus feels for it a kind of self-love. The affection of the offspring for the parents, and of parents for the offspring, and of spouses for each other, at first endures only for a season. But when the intelligence of the animals has risen to a certain point, their powers of memory are improved, they recognise their parents, their spouses, their young, long after the business of the nest is over, and consort together to renew their caresses and endearments. In this manner the flock is formed; it is based upon domestic love. And soon experience teaches them the advantages of union. They are the better able when in flocks to obtain food, and to defend themselves against their foes. They accordingly dwell together, and by means of their social habits their intelligence is quickened, their affections are enlarged. The members of animal societies possess in a marvellous degree the power of co-operation, the sentiment of fidelity to the herd. By briefly describing what the lower animals do, and what they feel, we shall show that they possess in a dispersed and elementary condition all the materials of which human nature is composed.
In their communities there is sometimes a regular form of government and a division into castes. They have their monarch, their labourers, and soldiers, who are sterile females like the Amazons of Dahomey. They have slaves which they capture by means of military expeditions, attacking the villages of their victims and carrying off the prisoners in their mouths. They afterwards make the slaves carry them. They have domestic animals which they milk. They form alliances with animals of a foreign species or nationality and admit them into the community when it can be profited thereby. They build houses or towns which are ingeniously constructed, and which, in proportion to the size of the architects, are greater than the Pyramids. They have club-houses or salons which they decorate with flowers and bright shells. They march in regular order; when they feed they post sentries which utter alert cries from time to time, just as our sentries cry "All's well". They combine to execute punishment, expelling or killing an ill-conducted member of the tribe. As among savages, the sick and the weakly are usually killed: though some times they are kept alive by alms; even the blind being fed by charitable persons. They labour incessantly for the welfare of the community; they bear one another's burdens; they fight with indomitable courage for the fatherland, and endeavour to rescue a comrade even against overwhelming odds. The domestic virtues are strong among them. Their conjugal love is often intense and pure; spouses have been known to pine to death when parted from each other. But if they have human virtues, they have also human vices; conjugal infidelity is known among them; and some animals appear to be profligate by nature. They are exceedingly jealous. They sport, and gamble, and frisk, and caress, and kiss each other, putting mouth to mouth. They shed tears. They utter musical sounds in tune. They are cleanly in their persons. They are ostentatious and vain, proud of their personal appearance, bestowing much time upon their toilet. They meditate and execute revenge, keeping in memory those who have offended them. They dream. They are capable of reflection and selection; they deliberate between two opposite desires. They are inquisitive and often fall victims to their passion for investigating every object which they have not seen before. They profit by experience; they die wiser than they were born, and though their stock of knowledge in great measure dies with them, their young ones acquire some of it by means of inheritance and imitation.
These remarkable mental powers were acquired by the lower animals partly through the struggle to obtain food, which sharpened their intelligence; and partly through the struggle to obtain the favours of the females, which developed their affections. In all cases, progress resulted from necessity. Races change only that they may not die; they are developed, so to speak, in self-defence. They have no inherent tendency to rise in the organic scale as plants grow to their flower, as animals grow to their prime. They have, however, a capacity for progress, and that is called forth by circumstances acting upon them from without. The law of growth in the lower kingdom is this, that all progress is preceded by calamity, that all improvement is based upon defect. This law affords us the clue to a phenomenon which at first is difficult to understand. That animal which has triumphed over all the rest was exceedingly defective in its physique. The race has not been to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. But the very defects of that animal's body made it exclusively rely upon its mind; and when the struggle for life became severe, the mind was improved by natural selection, and the animal was slowly developed into man.